Muddterm Season

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Fall break just went by, which means that most Mudders just finished their first set of midterms (yay!!). Most people I know assume that tests in college are similar to high school exams; coming to Mudd, I realized that this wasn’t actually the case. I’ve taken a midterm for all the courses I’m in and have not yet been made to sit in an exam hall with 50 other students working on an exam in absolute silence. It is true that most freshmen have had to take a couple of tests like this, but most of our midterms so far have been take-home tests.

The Honor Code is a big part of Mudd’s culture, and the concept of take-home tests is one of the benefits that it offers to students. Professors trust students enough that they can just release exams online for students to do wherever they like within a specified amount of time.

The first midterm I took was my Chemistry test, and the idea of taking the test anywhere I wanted definitely threw me off a bit at first. My friend and I wanted to take it at the same time, so we started looking for classrooms and ended up taking it in an empty lecture hall. Since then, we’ve realized that we don’t have to wander in the halls trying to find empty classrooms; we can just reserve a room in advance to take the exam. Still, if you ever forget to do that and have no remaining options, the lecture halls are usually a pretty good place to take an exam.

A pen and paper on a side table in a large empty lecture hall

Galileo Hall isn’t a bad place to take a midterm when it’s empty! Photo credit: Aanya Pratapneni

One of my favorite things about take-home midterms is that we get to pick any time over the span of a week to take the test, depending on what works with our schedule. Most Mudd students have busy schedules, so letting us choose when we want to do the test is a massive benefit. A couple of weeks ago, I planned to take my Math midterm on a Sunday afternoon, but then realized that I had too much other work to do. It took no effort at all to move the test to a different day so I could prepare for the test and stay on track for my other assignments.

Being able to take the test anywhere and at any time is great, but the absolute best part of take-home midterms for me is the fact that we’re allowed to have snacks and listen to music. I always make sure that I have a playlist that lets me focus and an arsenal of snacks readily available before I start an exam. This takes away almost all the stress I associated with exams in the past and makes it easy for me to focus only on the questions instead of what my grade will be. Even if it doesn’t help with stress or focus, I believe that snacks are just objectively always good for everyone’s mental health and sanity, so it’s a win either way!

A photograph of banana chips, a granola bar, and other snacks

My prerequisites for take-home midterms (can you tell that food brings me joy?) Photo credit: Aanya Pratapneni

This blog was written by Aanya Pratapneni '26 Intended major: computer science; Bangalore, India